Q&A: Piers Robinson, Head of Consultancy at The Storytellers

Q&A: Piers Robinson, Head of Consultancy at The Storytellers

Piers Robinson, Head of Consultancy at The Storytellers, takes the responsibility of hiring very seriously. 

How will your previous experience help you in your new role?

I have an unusual and varied background and I’m excited that my role at The Storytellers brings all of this into play.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in a variety of different roles, in different types of organisations including marketing, customer and sales team management, change consulting, executive coaching and in global HR and Change Director roles.

At The Storytellers, we're entering into an exciting phase of growth and I am working with the founders to expand and develop our capability, so I find my varied background is a good fit.

What are the unique challenges that The Storytellers currently face? How will you overcome these?

The Storytellers are a fascinating owner-managed business with a twelve-year track record of making change happen for their blue chip client list. As we scale the business, the management team knows that we need to build an infrastructure that works on an international scale and ensure that all of our consulting, production and creative talent have the skills, expertise and passion that make the company unique.

As the newcomer to this ambitious business, I have a privileged view working with the four founders and helping them to evolve the organisation, while maintaining the existing culture and staying nimble. This requires patience and understanding on both sides, underpinned by a huge amount of trust that we’re all on the same growth journey. In a way, this is easy for us at The Storytellers, because it’s what we do with our client’s every day, so it gives us an opportunity to put our own work into practice.

What factors do you think will have the biggest impact on the recruitment process in the next 12 months? And how do The Storytellers (and the industry as a whole) plan to adapt it?

The challenges of identifying, recruiting and retaining talent is not a new one, but with the improving economy and changing demands of talent, it is going to be all the more important for hirers to create a compelling EVP, supported by a robust program of development and long-term career opportunities.

From my HR Director background, and having implemented recruitment processes in the past, I recognise the importance of getting this right. For example, at The Storytellers, we have a hugely exciting, and unusual, proposition for candidates and we strive to articulate this to attract the best talent and then ensure that the employee experience more than matches up to expectations.

I take the responsibility of hiring the right people very seriously, both for the business and also the individual: it’s the most important thing we can do to enable the long-term growth of the organisation.

What or who has had the biggest impact on your career?

One of the experiences that has had a major impact on my career took place outside business: Winning a Commonwealth Gold medal as a rowing coach. I learned a huge amount about how to build a high-performing environment and create a winning culture that I have always found translates well into a business context.

Another valuable experience came through transitioning from a consulting role and partnering with senior stakeholders, to working as a member of an Executive Board – a transition I made with Fitness First and The Mill. On both occasions, I found it difficult to shift from being a partner to the Board – challenging behaviors and the status quo as an external agent – to becoming a positive agent of change from within an executive Board, building long-term, trusted relationships and alignment towards a shared objective as a member of the team. Learning and appreciating the challenges of Board executives from inside organisations has helped me enormously as a consultant.

What achievement in your career are you most proud of?

Having had a diverse career, I have had the benefit of many different experiences, from growing a portfolio of clients at Diageo to lecturing MBA students at Imperial College Business School.

I have learned from all of these experiences, but probably the one I am most proud of is working with the HR teams across 17 countries at Fitness First to deliver a significant improvement in employee engagement and retention, and shifting the customer experience and retention over a three-year period.

These metrics are the result of a company-wide strategy that required the alignment and support of many people in many different functions across multiple geographic territories.


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